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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Warcry's Review: Prime Kup

There's a rumor among younger Autobots that Sergeant Kup is laserproof. He has a habit of calmly walking through even the thickest crossfire to deliver advice and encouragement to raw recruits cowering under cover. The 'bots that serve under him think he might have a screw loose somewhere, but they'd still gladly follow him anywhere.

Well, this is a strange toy. Though it was designed to be a Primey version of Movie Ironhide right down to the alt-mode and the cannons, it was never released in those colours. Takara put the mold out as Ironhide, but in G1 red, which sort of misses the point of the design. Hasbro didn't release it as Ironhide at all, instead making the head-scratcher of a decision to colour it teal and release it as Prime Kup. They're both old-guy pickup trucks, so I suppose that works to some extent. But the mold is so distinctly "Ironhide"-looking that it comes off as a really weird choice.

To be honest, I'm not sold on the toy as Kup and only bought it on sale as kitbash fodder. However, after unpackaging it I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

Alternate Mode: Kup's alternate mode is, as you would expect, a teal pickup truck. He has some silver detailing on his front end and roof lights, splashes of bright green on his hood and doors and black details on his tailgate and rear bumper. I'm not a huge fan of these colours, honestly, but the mold is very detailed and looks pretty cool in spite of them.

The vehicle mode is surprisingly small, especially for a pickup truck. He's dwarfed by every Deluxe car I can think of, even tiny Classics Bumblebee, and even looks too small next to some Scouts -- he's meant to be a big, heavy-duty crew-cab work truck judging by the scale of his molded details, but compared to Hubcap or Windcharger he looks like a compact pickup like an S-10. So while it's a nice-looking truck on it's own, Kup looks pretty strange driving alongside pretty much any other Autobot I own.

Kup's truck bed is the one place where the illusion of him being a vehicle falls apart. It has no floor, and it's full of robot legs. A larger toy (a bigger Deluxe or even a Voyager) could probably have pulled off a more convincing bed, but truth be told Transformer pickups almost never get this part of the vehicle right. Most of them settle for disguising the problem by putting a cap or something over the bed, and Kup is no different. His twin cannons can plug into the truck bed and hide the robot bits from most angles, though if you look at him from overhead it's still pretty clear that he's got a huge, unsightly hole. The cannons themselves aren't particularly useful unless Kup wants to blow up his own passenger compartment, since they can't be aimed without un-transforming the rear of the truck somewhat and exposing some robot bits (though to be fair, if he's cannon-blasting stuff he's probably done worrying about disguise).

Overall Kup is a pretty good little truck, but the small size and colour scheme keep me from liking it as much as I could have.

Robot Mode: Kup's robot mode introduces a bit more variety colour-wise than the truck had. There's still quite a bit of teal, but his upper arms and legs along with much of his torso are a dark bluish grey. On the other hand, the bright green, silver and black details are much less evident than they were in vehicle mode. The end result is a robot who looks very different from his alt-mode, which is always a good thing in my books when it can be pulled off.

Like in robot mode, Kup is very undersized for a Deluxe. Classics Bumblebee is once again his closest comparable, which is a bit disturbing because when Bumblebee came out seven (!) years earlier he had a gigantic water ski thing as an accessory to use up all the extra plastic. While I do understand the reasoning behind shrinking toys, it still doesn't make Kup look any less strange, even alongside fellow Prime figures like Bulkhead or Wheeljack.

Size aside he's a neat figure, though. He's got great proportions and all the usual range of motion you'd expect on a Transformer of his size. He's also got great balance, which means he's very poseable. The only real exception to that is his head, which is a bit hard to reach and pose if you've got big fingers like me, because of the funny collar of truck hood parts that he wears.

The head problem can be remedied, though, if you use an alternate transformation that seems to be fairly common in the fandom. Instead of folding the hood down over his head, leave the entire upper vehicle shell hanging off of Kup's back. The resulting robot mode seems a bit less bulky, but the trade-off is that he's got much easier-to-use head articulation. It also gives him a very unique look, which would help differentiate Kup here from Takara's Ironhide if you own both. It also mitigates the issue that I have with the remaining section of Kup's hood, which just hangs awkwardly off of his back and tends to fall off with the least little provocation. The joint is poorly-designed, something which also manifests itself in the form of paint rubbing that is eating away at the bright green on Kup's hood.

Unfortunately that doesn't do anything about the head's other problem -- it looks exactly like Ironhide and nothing like Kup. A new head really wouldn't have been too much to ask for here, but I suppose Hasbro didn't want to spend the money when they weren't planning on using the first one.

The toy comes with two guns that are based on Movie Ironhide's two gigantic cannons. They can be forearm-mounted, but that only serves to emphasize the toy's Ironhideyness so I usually have Kup wield them as handheld blasters. They can also be combined into a single gigantic gun that looks more like a bazooka than a rifle (though unfortunately, Kup can't hold it like a bazooka. In this day and age it's nice for a toy to have two substantial accessories like that, but it doesn't make up for his tiny size in my books.

Overall though, Kup is a pretty nice toy.

Transformation Design: I was surprised by how simple the toy's transformation is. Kup here would be something a kid would enjoy playing with, rather than the over-complicated mess that a lot of modern Transformers have become. But in spite of the simple conversion, both modes work and it's a lot of fun to switch him from one mode to the next. 9/10

Durability: I worry about the troublesome hood joint that I mentioned above. But other than that Kup is very solid. 8/10

Fun: Kup brings a lot to the table here. He's lots of fun to play around with. But he doesn't fit well with many other Transformers, and that hurts his score. 7/10

Aesthetics: He's a runt Ironhide with ugly colours, unfortunately. Not even the potential to vary his robot-mode look is enough to swing the scales back in the positive direction. 4/10

Articulation: Lots of joints, good range of motion and good poseability. Kup's no slouch in this department. 8/10

Price: I bought him on sale, and my understanding is that it's not uncommon to find him at clearance outlets these days. For those prices, he's a bargain. 10/10

Overall: I'll be honest, I'm surprised by how much I like this toy. In spite of not looking like Kup, and in spite of being a tiny, tiny Deluxe, he's a lot of fun. I don't know that I'd hunt for him on the secondary market, but if he's available at retail for cheap in your area I'd strongly recommend him. 7.5/10
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